This weekend was the first ever Vancouver WordPress Theme Weekend. I was happy and excited to be part of the organizing team along with Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Angela Chich and Pauline Lai. We had a total of 20 attendees, divided into 4 teams of 5.
On Saturday morning, we divided up the teams and then brainstormed some ideas. The teams had just under an hour to decide on theme ideas. Each team ended up picking a niche they wanted to gear their themes towards. The four niches were: recipes, restaurants, fine art artists and film festivals. It then took most of day 1 for ideas, wireframes and designs to get fully fleshed out. Coding began at the end of day 1 for most teams.
Throughout day 1 we gave themers several opportunities to present their progress, and ask questions & feedback from other attendees. On day 2, we minimized interruptions and let everyone work hard on their themes… writing html, css and php.
In addition to the organizers, we had 3 floaters, Christine Rondeau, Catherine Winters and Andrew Ozz who helped teams with any questions or issues they encountered; mainly technical questions but essentially anything that came up.
On saturday morning, I gave a quick Github 101 presentation. The presentation was well received but unfortunately the whole concept of version control was over the head of most attendees who were either advanced users or novice developers. Everyone was eager to learn but in the end encouraging everyone to use Github was more of a hassle than it was worth. We ended up dropping the idea and everyone was free to work with the files whatever which way they pleased.
Overall, the weekend was a success. None of the teams 100% completed their theme but they did get very close. After all, most people wouldn’t be able to build a fully-fledged theme in 2 days, yet they did get a whole lot done in just about 15 hours of work. Regardless, everyone learned something and more importantly, we, as the Vancouver WordPress community got together, got to know each other better and collaborated together. That’s an experience that I think truly represents what WordPress is about and I hope to see more WordPress local groups organize and encourage this kind of hackaton-style activities.
I’d like to give huge thanks to the WordPress foundation for helping us with costs (mainly feeding everyone both days), the Network Hub for giving us the space (and giving us beer at the end of day 2!) and the Pink & Yellow NFP Society for helping organize and take care of the finances for the event.